Funeral held for beloved K-9 officer in Tennessee

Beverly Majors

He was loved ... and on Friday afternoon he was honored.

Ringo, the beloved canine partner of Anderson County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Coley, died in February from a kidney disorder.

The Sheriff's Department held a memorial service for Ringo in the Clinton Community Center to say goodbye to their fellow officer and to give support to Coley and his "human family."

Hundreds of people -- including men, women, children and dozens of law enforcement officers -- attended the 2 p.m. service to pay their final respect to Ringo. A photographic display showed the K-9 officer and Coley at work and play, while another display highlighted the police dog's distinguished awards and numerous certificates.

Deputy Matt Forsyth read a poem Coley wrote in memory of Ringo which stated, in part, "We'll be partners until I die."

The 10-year-old Belgian Malinois was Coley's partner for the past eight years. They first worked together with the Clinton Police Department and had been with the sheriff's office for the past two years.

Coley and his wife, Kristy, considered Ringo a part of their family.

"These are not junkyard dogs protecting their turf," explained Will Roberts, Ringo's longtime veterinarian.

"He might be at a school function ... and then out saving a life," he said.

"Ringo could do this."

The veterinarian said Ringo possessed a sweet spirit that suggested he liked people. Roberts said the canine "exhibited confidence (and) he knew Coley had his back."

Nevertheless, Roberts said that Ringo's age and his condition took its toll.

"Ringo was an amazing dog, an amazing partner, and a really good friend," the veterinarian said to Coley.

Sheriff Paul White also read a poem about police dogs that states: "I would lay down my life for you."

The sheriff said Ringo was now "an angel in blue."

Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said he thought long and hard about what to say about Ringo until he realized that "I don't have to say anything. We all know what a unique member of law enforcement he was."

A video of Ringo's life was shown to those who attended the 30-minute service. Many of those in attendance shed tears as pictures of the police dog faded on and off the screen as words to the song "I Believe," by Diamond Rio, played in the background.

A lone bugler played "Taps" -- offering the final tribute to the fallen officer.

The Oak Ridger